Spike Lee’s Revised List of “Essential Films” Includes More Female Filmmakers

Slate's Culture Blog
Aug. 20 2013 1:05 PM

Spike Lee’s Revised List of “Essential Films” Includes More Female Filmmakers

Director Spike Lee

Photo by Jason Merritt/Getty Images

A month ago, I shared Spike Lee’s “Essential Films,” a list the director gives each year to his graduate students at NYU, and which he had posted online as part of his Kickstarter campaign. It featured a wide range of the expected and unexpected, but as myself and others noted, women directors were glaringly omitted from the list (save for Kátia Lund, co-director of City of God).

Aisha Harris Aisha Harris

Aisha Harris is a Slate staff writer.

It appears Lee has taken the criticism to heart. In the latest Kickstarter update, Lee presents a revision of his “Essential Films,” with a note to his supporters:

As The Fall Semester Nears At NYU Grad, We Thought We Would Reprint My Revised Essential Film List (With Women Directors). Many Of You Informed Me Of That Omission. Thank You For That Coat Pulling.
Peace And Love,

These newly added female directors include Euzhan Palcy (Sugar Cane Alley), Jane Campion (The Piano), Julie Dash (Daughters of the Dust), and Kathryn Bigelow (The Hurt Locker). Lina Wertmüller is the most represented woman on the list with four movies, among them Seven Beauties, the 1975 Italian language film that made her the first woman to be nominated for best director at the Oscars. They’re all solid choices that rise above any appearance of slapdash tokenism. They come from various places and encompass a wide range of filmmaking styles.

You can see the revised list below. By the way, while we still no very little about the actual project Lee has successfully funded via Kickstarter, we at least know something about the casting: The leads will be two up-and-coming actors, Stephen Tyrone Williams and Zaraah Abrahams.

Update, August 20, 2013, 6:05 PM: In an exciting twist, Lee has announced that "Omar's coming": Michael K. Williams, of The Wire fame, has been added to the cast



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